Friday, April 15, 2011
About a Life: What the scrapbooks have to offer
So far, this much I know: Dorothy "Chrissie" Gundelach S----- was born In St. Louis, Missouri on October 2, 1909 and lived to be 71. Daughter of Marguerite and William, Dorothy died at 7:00 am on June 71, 1981 after an 18 month struggle with colon cancer. Her husband, Helmuth ("Fred") is listed as informant on her death certificate.
The scrapbooks and photo albums Dorothy kept offer still other details about her life and things, I presume, that were important to her--at least important enough to save, annotate, document. The scrapbook covering the period of time between March 1956-August 1958 contains two newspaper cuttings about her mother's death in May of 1956. The clipping here details her mother's estate and what Dorothy, Helmuth and the Home of the Friendless would inherit. From the other clipping, one learns that Dorothy's father was a physician and that he passed away in 1935.
Here is a sampling of some of the other things I learned about Dorothy's life based on what I found she had saved and/or written about in her scrapbooks and photo albums:
Places to call home
From January 14th-February 24th of 1950, Dorothy and Fred lived at the Hotel Truman in Mannheim, Germany. My assumption is that Fred's involvement with the military had them stationed there during this time.
Dorothy often included in the scrapbooks and photo albums pictures taken from windows in the various places she and Helmuth (almost always referred to by his middle name, Fred) lived. It's not uncommon to find images marked "view from our bedroom," "view of our lake," "view from the front room." Other common types of images included here are pictures of made-up but otherwise empty rooms (meaning images that contained furniture, clocks, flowers, but not people), images of Christmas trees and gifts, and images of tables made up for dinner parties, as we see below.
Also included were handwritten documents, like this one. This appears to be a seating arrangements for a breakfast gathering:
And this: A hand-drawn map and notes about a trip--one Dorothy describes as "very upsetting"--taken on December 27th.
Teeth, booby traps, furs, feet, seeds, and bank deposits
My favorite items in the scrapbooks are those me as oddities. Things that leave me wondering why they were included at all. For instance:
From this we learn that Dorothy had extracted at 10:00 am on Thursday July 13 her number 14th tooth. A process that apparently went swimmingly well.
Still other evidence of the life she lived
Dorothy's trip diaries prepared me for how seriously she took the task of documenting, not only where she and Fred traveled, but how they got there, what they did--and perhaps most importantly--what they spent at each stop along the way. In this way, I was not surprised to encounter the itemized lists and bills also contained in the scrapbooks. For instance:
From the scrapbooks, I also learned that Dorothy attended Mary Institute in St. Louis. Included here is an image of her history teacher and another newspaper clipping above which Dorothy has written: "Girls I knew at M.I."